Work-in-Progress Girl


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Pushme Pullme Florence Baby Quilt

This newest finish is not one I’d really had on my horizon to get finished, but rather out of nowhere I got a bug up my ass about finishing it, and so I did.

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt

The last time I wrote about this quilt was in January of 2013. (Yikes! I need to finish more and start less if little, easy to finish quilts like this are sitting around for nearly 3 years!) You should go check out that post – in it I talk a lot more about the pattern, which is the Pushme Pullme block, designed by Michelle Wilkie of Factotum of Arts. I was one of Michelle’s pattern testers for this block and I think the only one who didn’t actually finish what I’d created with it. I’m really glad to have it done now, though – it’s one more thing off my list and better: it’s going to be donated to a Linus blanket charity and is a part of the 100 Quilts for Kids campaign.

100 Quilts for Kids

I really don’t know why I took so long to finish this – with a very simple pattern (a loopy meander), it took just a couple hours to get the quilting completely finished. I think I spent more time trying to decide what binding to use than it took just to get it all finished. I was helped out by it being a fairly small quilt: just a teeny-tin itty-bitty 30.5 inches square.

Both the best and worst places to see the quilting on this is on those dark blue bits of fabric. I will quilt with white thread over pretty much anything and it pretty much always sinks into the background even when you use it on colour, but it sure does look awful on that deep blue! From a distance you could almost imagine that’s a print on the fabric, rather than free motion quilting!

I spent a lot of time contemplating a more complex straight-line quilting pattern that would emphasize the arrows in the blocks, but decided that after 3 years of inaction, I needed to do the fast thing instead of the intricate thing.

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt

Every print in this quilt is a Denyse Schmidt print, front, back, and binding. All of the prints (except the two binding prints) come from Schmidt’s Florence line – I’d bought a 12 print bundle of blues and greens, and all 12 prints made their way into this quilt. The solid fabrics are all Kona cottons and I pulled most of them out of a jelly roll, so I’m not actually sure what colours they are! The dark blue is Nightfall, which is a really beautiful deep colour (and I wish I had yards and yards of it instead of scraps after having used it in a couple quilts). Its hard to tell in most photos, but there are two different light blues and two different greens – since I only had jelly roll strips, I think there wasn’t enough to stretch out each colour over two blocks.

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt

The binding fabrics come from Chicopee and (I think) Shelburne Falls. Schmidt creates magnificent plaids (and I’m sort of having a plaid moment right now!) so there are four different plaids in just this one quilt. Too much?

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt
Obligatory windblown shot!

Anyway, I suppose that’s all there is to say about this little quilt! I really like it and am really pleased to see it finished and ready to find a home with a child in need.

Some quilt stats
Name: PushMe PullMe Florence Quilt
Pattern: Pushme Pulle by Michelle Wilkie
Size: 30.5″ x 30.5″
Fabric: 12 FQs from Denyse Schmidt’s Florence line, plus assorted Kona cottons (featuring Nightfall on the back and in the corners of the front)
Batting: Some weird all cotton no name from Michaels
Thread: White Guttermann (piecing), White Aurifil (quilting)
Backing: Assorted Florence prints, plus Kona Nightfall
Binding: Plaids from Denyse Schmidt’s lines Chicopee and Shelburne Falls.


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A Lovely Year of Finishes: March Goal

Okay, so my goal from last month is now my goal for this month. To finish – quilted and bound – my pink and coral windmill quilt. I did get it all basted and I even started quilting it, but I got hung up somewhere along the way because I didn’t like how it was looking… and I unpicked four blocks worth of quilting. (Which was not that much, but still felt like A LOT.)

practise not perfection

The thing was, I was trying to do very large spirals, so that I could do one per quarter block, which is a 4-inch square space. And while it wasn’t a bad idea in theory, it’s actually pretty tough to make a spiral that big! Not just to make one that big, but to make one that big that looks good! I was ending up with a lot of squarish bits on my spirals and jerks because I had to move my hands too far to get the outer ring the right size. (It’s different when you spiral out from the centre, that’s not as tough – you just have to maintain a consistent space between quilting lines, but this is a the kind of spiral where you spiral in and then spiral back out in the empty spaces.) And it was leaving too much of a gap in the centre of the block, so out it came.

Quilting Swirls

This time I’m doing a more organic spiral, trying to fill in the spaces with different size spirals that fill at approximately the same scale. I’m not that good at it – there are bits where I forget to leave room to spiral out and so have lines nearly touching that shouldn’t at all, and then there are some bits where there’s a solid inch between quilting lines. But this is practise and I’ll never get better if I don’t just practise.

Quilting Swirls

I’m still having a pretty hard time with regulating the speed of my hands and speed of my machine… so I’ve got some giant stitches (along the lines of 1/4-inch length) and some very, very tiny ones. I have a tendancy to jerk just a little bit when I first start quilting again after I’ve paused to reposition my hands. And sometimes I panic while trying to decide where to quilt next. I’m trying to work in a fairly logical progression around the quilt (working out from the centre, essentially spiralling around that centre block), but I think just figuring out where to go next might be the hardest thing about free motion quilting.

Quilting Swirls

Seeing this quilt in the machine in the sunshine is kind of making me like this quilt again, which hasn’t always been the case. I’m bouncing back and forth with this one. I bet when it’s done I’ll like it better than I ever thought I would.

If you can see that dangling thread in this photo, that’s because I had to stop here when the bobbin thread ran out. I didn’t feel like picking back my stitches last night (so that I’d have enough thread to buy), so that’s on tap for tonight, if I ever make it off the computer and into the sewing room. But before I go, I wanted to show you some of the more amusing (to me) parts of my quilting set-up.

I sew on a cheapie kitchen table which is taller than standard with shorter than standard kitchen chairs. With the machine on the table, it’s a bit like trying to quilt with my elbows at my ears, so this is my height solution:

Quilting set-up

That would be an Ikea neck support pillow, which was too stiff for sleeping, but is remarkably comfortable for sitting on while sewing, topping a double stack of quilting books (my bum is big – one stack of books isn’t going to cut it, comfort-wise). I don’t always quilt with the pillow on top of the book pile, because it sometimes feels a bit too much like I’m hovering over everything.

Quilting set-up

These books are pushed way too far back on the chair, normally they’re up closer to the edge of the chair so that I can sit on them more comfortably. They add a nice 4 inches or so of height! Some of the books in this stack… it’s the most use they’ll ever see. But the two up top – Sunday Morning Quilts and Shape by Shape – are two of my favourite books in my quilting collection. I’m sorry author-ladies: the fact that I park my ass on your books is not a reflection of my opinion at all! It’s just an added dimension of usefulness in a pair of already magnificent books.

Quilting set-up

Since I’m lifted so far up from the floor, I also need to lift my foot-pedal up from the floor – I’m a short person, so I can’t stretch down to the floor all that comfortably. The plastic box is a rather old piece of Tupperware that I probably inadvertently stole from my mom about 15 years ago. I’ve got it turned the long way now so that there’s more space to rest my foot, but that’s the basic set-up.

The things we do for our hobbies.


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Talk to Me… Thursday?

A belated Talk to Me Tuesday video. There are a few Gypsy Wife blocks on display, a bit of talk about my Citrus Swap package (which I posted about here), and then a whole lot of chit chat about my most recent attempts at Free Motion Quilting. There is, per usual, some pretty shoddy edits – the program I use doesn’t have an “Undo” button, so if you mess something up, you can either live with it or you can close the program without saving – thus losing all the “good” edits – and start over again. So, you know… I live with the bad cuts.

The Craftsy class I mentioned was Start Free Motion Quilting with Elizabeth Dackson (not an affiliate link). It’s an interesting class and taught in a rather different style than a lot of classes I’ve seen. She sort of jumps right into quilting and then stops periodically to offer information about various different things. For instance, you don’t find out about her basting method until the fourth lesson. It bothered me a little to begin with because I felt like I’d have to watch the entire class to get some of the tips and hints I might have needed nearer the beginning of the class, but in the end I appreciated it because it broke up what could otherwise have been a couple lessons of Too Much Information At Once and then a long line of “Here’s how to stitch this design, now watch me stitch it for 20 minutes.” I think she’s a very good teacher, she speaks a bit too quickly (particularly in the intro where I felt like she was reading a pre-written blurb, but was speeding through it), but she’s very calm and precise. I appreciated that she gave information about the other ways that different quilters do things, for instance, spray basting vs pin basting or hands on top the quilt quilting vs clenching the quilt in your fists quilting. The one thing that did bother me about the class is that she only ever showed us her quilting methods on practise sandwiches – there are three provided projects, but other than showing us where the different quilting designs appear on the projects, you don’t actually see the projects being quilted. There’s often a world of difference between quilting a practise sandwich and quilting a finished quilt top, so I would have appreciated seeing her stitching, say, the tiny stippling in the pillow rather than just the larger stippling on the practise sandwich.


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Random Thursday

Is this supposed to be a link-up or is it just really… Random Thursday? Well, here’s a few random bits and bobs:

1. Next project

002

I spent an embarrassingly long time sitting and staring at that one hexie yesterday trying to decide which way to go with it. The Paper Pieces package recommends sewing through the paper, but I want to use them multiple times and so I can’t help thinking it MUST be better for the paper not to sew through. The package does say you can keep reusing them anyway, but don’t they get all damaged in the corners where the stitches go? I don’t know. I’ve been planning today to watch a few videos on YouTube to see if I can decide which looks a more likely route for me.

2. Birdie Sling

Birdie Sling fabrics

Not sold on the denim yarn-dyed Essex Linen. I like it, a lot, but it feels too pale compared to the darker blue, maybe? (Special thanks to Michelle for her contribution to these fabrics being in my stash! :D) I thought from photos online that maybe it would be a darker blue than it is. I think a bag looks top-heavy if you put the darker fabric on top, and I could switch it so that the print fabric is on the bottom, but honestly I don’t want that much of the print on display. The bag on the pattern cover has a darker top band, but I think that large print on the bottom (with the smaller print up top) counter-acts the top-heaviness. I’ll have to think about it. I might have some Kona Nightfall fabric that would probably work (maybe?) and would definitely be darker. I don’t want to have to buy more fabric, in any case.

3. Leftover bits from something I’ve been working on.

Liberty Scraps

Liberty scraps. I’m not a big fan of Liberty (by and large I find their prints to be overly fussy, but there are a few I do like, even though they are fussy little florals), but wanted to see what the Tana Lawn was like to work with. I’m not 100% on board with the thing I made that generated these scraps (photos later – I want to be more happy with it before I share) and I wound up putting interfacing on the fabric because it was too light-weight (compared to the linen I paired it with). It also smelled a bit of bug spray – I have to assume that’s the fault of the seller, not the fabric maker, but I’ve been airing it out and can’t smell it any longer. (Also, I could smell bugspray at work the other day where no bug spray existed, so maybe I had some crossed wires in my brain…)

4. The solids Churn Dash.

Churn Dash

Just need a few more… Well, I need one more row’s worth, plus I’m waiting for 2 that will be sent to me. Love how this is coming together.

5. Some of my problem spots with the FMQ on the Star Surround project. If you have suggestions or advice for avoiding, please let me know!

008

There’s lot of little things to nit pick with this one, which I will nit-pick in other photos instead, what I took this photo for was the kind of jerkiness of it. I didn’t get a smooth loop at all on that top one, which was just me needing to stop and get my hands in a better position (but just pushing through anyway). What really bothers me is the stitches just before it goes from a straight(ish) downward line into the loop – you can see a spot where I went from vertical almost immediately to horizontal, and although I mentioned this was a spot where I’d needed to reposition my hands, I ALSO had that same issue in places (sometimes) where I did come to a complete stop, and then started again. Sometimes I could get a smooth restart and then other times I’d go off in a completely different direction than I really “should” have. I KNOW that it’s not going to show much in the grand scheme of things (which is why I didn’t pick out any of my stitches, except where there were thread breaks and the one time I had a toe catcher), but I’d still rather learn to prevent it.

011

Okay. Quarter-inch stitches vs sixteenth of an inch stitches. I know this is about the speed of my hands relative to the speed of the machine, but… how should I sew into a curve to keep my stitches smaller and more uniform? I know, practise. Yay, practise. But should I be giving it a little more gas at the beginning of the curve or easing off…? Move my hands faster as I go into that motion? I don’t know. As with all my other little issues, they seemed to hit intermittently – every time I congratulated myself for a particularly well done bit, I’d wind up doing something dumb 😀 (If I hadn’t used such garish fabrics, I’d show you my practise stitches! My best rows were the first two, before I started paying attention to what I was doing, before I remembered to turn my stitch length to zero even!, then they got progressively worse for a bit while I figured out what to do to improve things, and then they started to get better again. My one practise row of stippling is… appalling. There’s a reason I haven’t done it for realsies yet. Definitely need a whole practise sandwich just for that! But I want to go through Leah Day’s method of practising in stages – u shapes, lobster claw shapes, etc. – before joining it all up in a properly random stipple.)

009

Okay, this doesn’t show super clearly because I could not convince my camera to focus on the problem spot rather than a spot an inch above it. But that particularly long looking stitch kind of in the bottom middle of the lower loop… My machine skipped a stitch. It only happened a couple times in the whole quilt, but I seem to remember reading something somewhere about what that means, but I can’t seem to find any information on the topic now! (I tried googling FMQ skipped stitch, but that didn’t help. It’s possible I just got bored of looking for answers, though, so I should probably search it again now that I’m not so focussed on getting that quilt done done done!) A couple of my skipped stitches, I went in with a needle and thread and couched the skipped bit (didn’t want to unpick, also didn’t want to leave a loop big enough for a kid’s finger to go into), but I didn’t do it every time. (It was awkward! And I don’t know how stable that couching will be, it’s not like with embroidery where you can secure it really easily on the back.)

010

Okay. You can see a bit of this in most of my photos, but the bobbin thread is even more visible in this photo because the darker part of the variegated thread is on the bobbin thread here, with a very pale part on top. I always thought this was a tension issue, but my machine is set at almost the highest tension available. I didn’t adjust it to the higher setting because it didn’t do this all the time I was FMQing, so I wondered if something else was at work?

I don’t know. If any of you do much FMQing and have thoughts or suggestions, let me know! I know it’s not easy to diagnose when you can’t see what I do when I quilt, but I figured someone might have thoughts.

[Also, I’m linking up to Free Motion Quilting Friday at Leah Day’s The Free Motion Quilting Project. If you want to see the finished quilt which has all these flawed bits of stitching on them, you can find it here.]